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Posts Tagged ‘chutzpah’

Like the bed-destroying dog that expects praise or the guy that lights the house on fire and later claims credit for putting it out, yesterday the State Bar of Arizona blast emailed supposed “good news about member fees.” The Bar’s final $15 dues increase slated for implementation January 1, 2019 “has been put on hold.”

Already one of the highest cost to practice states in the U.S. at either No. 3 or 4 on the high-priced hit parade, the Bar’s email message from its new president seemed to expect members to praise or credit it for this latest dues suspension.

Let’s instead give the new president a dozen chutzpah cupcakes to pass around at next month’s board meeting.

This is the second postponement authorized by the state supreme court. The last $15 was originally scheduled for roll out January 1 of this year.

But to be clear, the increase hasn’t been terminated. It’s only “on hold” — again.

That nuance, however, needn’t get in the way of the Bar audaciously reframing the latest postponement. It’s the result of the Bar having “done a great job managing its budget and resources,” says the new president.

In actuality, it’s business as usual at the Bar. Every year the budget swells thanks to unbridled bureaucratic growth; generous executive pay raises; mission creep; new hires; and the new Public Service Center’s consumer-lawyer internet matching service. Talk about spin.

By way of history, in December 2013 the Bar first proposed a $100 total dues increase, $25 per year phased in over four years. The board tried to slip through this hefty, unwarranted dues hike 12 days before Christmas when they likely believed members weren’t paying attention.

But members did catch wind of the Bar’s unwelcome early yuletide gift. Following member uproar, the board backed off a vote on the proposal and rescheduled it for February 2014. The board also scaled back the $100 increase in favor of a $60 increase, $15 per year over four years. The board’s amended proposal, however, also tried to shamelessly embed an automatic CPI escalator. Leave it to lawyers to step on the tail of due process. Fortunately, the cost-of-living escalator was denied by the court although the $60 increase alas won approval.

Then as now, the Bar claimed to be cutting expenses and operating with efficiency. The president at the time even declared the Bar had “streamlined to the point that we spend less today per member than we did in 2005 when the last dues increase occurred.”

These days, at least per its latest Form 990 IRS-mandated public return, the Bar remains as bloated as ever. There are 133 employees¹ on the payroll not including an undisclosed number of independent contractors and consultants.

And while it brags about “the great resources the Bar offers its members,” in point of fact most members don’t care, want or bother with these self-styled “great resources.”

Indeed, what the Bar fears most is a time when it is finally forced to give their compulsory members a choice whether or not to voluntarily fund these “great resources.” When that happens, no amount of spin or cherry-picking chutzpah will repurpose that reality.

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¹After this post was published, I received an email from the Arizona Bar’s Chief Communications Officer with the following: “Just for the record, the State Bar currently has 102 employees. The 133 number on the form 990 basically refers to anyone who received a W2. Because of employee turnover the numbers will always be greater than the number of employees.”

Credits: “O Mingus,” by Jenn at Flickr Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike; “Dog Cupcakes,” by Jenny Kaczorowski at Flickr Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike.

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Maybe it was because Jim Cramer made a cameo appearance on NBC Television’s The Good Wife Sunday night that I thought of Cramer in light of celebrity chef Paula Deen‘s just disclosed diabetes debacle.

Trolling in entirely different oceans, Cramer and Deen couldn’t be more opposite. But what they have in common are identical chasm-like credibility deficits.

In 2008, just before Bear Stearns tanked, Jim Cramer famously shrieked on his goofy television show, “Mad Money,” “Bear Stearns is Fine!”

“Bear Stearns is not in trouble,” he said. “Don’t be silly… don’t move your money.” A week later Stearns dropped like a rock. Not Cramer’s best moment, worsened only by a subsequent brouhaha with Comedy Central‘s Jon Stewart.

How is Cramer still on television dispensing stock picks and investment advice after that? One word: shamelessness.

photoSo appropriately enough, deep-fried, wrapped-in-bacon Paula Deen, the mistress of mantequilla, who has made her life’s work dispensing fat-laden, over-salted and butter-saturated unhealthy food recipes belatedly discloses she’s diabetic. Ah, the perils of eating your own unhealthy food.
Worse yet, after sitting on the information for 3 years, she times her tardy revelation to coincide with announcing her new endorsement gig for a diabetes drug. Hard to fault celebrity chef/author Anthony Bourdain for tweeting, “Thinking of getting into the leg-breaking business, so I can profitably sell crutches later.”
                                                                                                                                                                   Television personalities and big name celebrities aren’t known for modesty or embarrassment. They take run-of-the-mill effrontery to an entirely different level. I once thought chutzpah was epitomized when I heard that dog-killer Michael Vick wanted a pet dog.
                                                                                                                                                          Cornered chutzpah.

There was also a time I thought lawyers had all but cornered the market in chutzpah. Just last year, there were several instances of audacious attorney impudence. Take, for example, that drug prosecuting Las Vegas D.A. arrested for allegedly buying street corner cocaine or Florida DUI lawyer Mark Gold who the ABA Journal reported filed suit against a Miami strip club “alleging that it charged nearly $19,000 on his credit card in November 2010 when he was too inebriated to enter into a contract.”

And then there was that federal judge who referred to “the staggering chutzpah” of Texas lawyer Evan Stone. And who can forget Marc Dreier‘s “Chutzpah Spree”? Or how about that other Florida (albeit disbarred) attorney Mitchell Gross noted by Nancy Rapoport’s Blogspot: “Story of (former) lawyer’s chutzpah“?
                                                                                                                                                                              But perhaps I shouldn’t be picking on smarmy lawyers? Or brazen celebrities or ‘repentant’ sports stars? After all, rule bending and moral relativism are common afflictions. They’re not isolated just to the aforementioned.
accidents,banana peels,business,metaphors,challenges,feet,humor,men,people,slipping,stepping

Life is full of ‘spin.’ It’s an all too ready convenience to dodge and weave and hem and haw when things get personally uncomfortable. Indeed, Costa Concordia captain Francesco Schettino now says he didn’t abandon ship. He claims he tripped and fell into a lifeboat. And here I’d been thinking that banana peel had only tripped up Phillipine Supreme court Associate Justice Mariano C. del Castillo, another ‘accident prone’ spinmeister.

                                                                                                                                                                           Then there’s Dr. Alex Pattakos who rightly decries government and corporate types who actAbove The Law: Do As I Say, Not As I Do.
                                                                                                                                                                             Not to mention parents who for a long time have been pulling the same “Do as I say, not as I do” card as part of “The Hypocrisy of Parenting.”
File:Diogenes looking for a man - attributed to JHW Tischbein.jpg                                                                                                                So who needs Diogenes when you’ve got cynicism?

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Photo credits: “Quite the mouthful” by Lady/Bird via Creative Commons-licensed content for noncommercial use requiring attribution and share alike distribution at Flickr.

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